Hello there. It is so good to talk to you. Feels like it has been forever.
Cody and I are still establishing ourselves in our new community and as we do, we are encountering some great people who are very welcoming. The people at the Waldport Public Library are just lovely. Last week we visited their book sale which was a benefit for Texas libraries affected by this year’s bluster of hurricanes.
There is the remarkable food truck called Chubby’s (yeah, I know). They have the best damn burgers and the woman who works the counter (also the owner I think) is really friendly. She answers my community questions while I wait for my food. The people at the local branch of the Umpqua bank have given us restaurant recommendations and the servers at the Hilltop treat everyone like family. I feel like I need to give special recognition to the guys at Eager Beaver Furniture. They were so welcoming and helpful. Everyone there made us feel like we had lived here forever.
I will take a moment here to acknowledge that yes, we live in a town that hosts both Chubby’s and Eager Beaver. Big breath, moving on.
With all this good will you’d think I would feel like we fit right in, and for the most part I do . . . except when I don’t. Here is the rub, there have been a shocking number of people who upon learning that we relocated to this area a scant six weeks ago, feel the need to school us about the weather. It is so weird.
No one among these souls is issuing a warning or using a tone that indicates either a concern for our wellbeing or even a friendly heads up. To the person, each one of them has presented this idea of coastal rain as a totally new concept that we, as outsider morons, could never understand. The kindest among these exclusionaries have offered a pitying tone while others mock and straight up gloat.
The idea that these people, having had wet feet and seen months of rain are somehow superior humans baffles me. They share a mocking smile and a dismissive nod among them. These traits are ubiquitous. My gut reaction is to list for them the twelve state I have lived in and the unique weather phenomena in each. The phrase “If you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes” is uttered nationwide (I personally heard it half a dozen times in Canada and once in Mexico too.) Weather, as a result of the earth’s atmosphere, is indeed everywhere.
My inner seven-year-old wants to get in each face and demand to know when the last time they had to chip a full inch of ice of the entirety of their car after a Nor’easter was. The nasty little bully inside me needs to know how many winters they have spent shoveling six to eight feet of snow? The passive aggressive beastie in my heart wants to ask when was the last time they spent three months on constant tornado watch, hustling to the basement to hunker down every time the wind blew? Buried inside me a deeply offended voice of rage wants to defend me, a grownup with my own life experiences, by demanding to know if they had ever watched the water steadily rise to top of a crumbling levy wondering when the evacuation call would come and the shelters would open?
But this is all bluster. Instead of acting out I shrug and smile a little and say, “Well, you don’t have to shovel rain.” Seems like that should do it. Interestingly here is where the diehards really show what they are made of. They go on and on about sideways rain and three months of rain and a million other things. I get it, I do, I understand, I have even seen it myself if they would think enough to ask I might share that droplet of truth. This last week a young shopgirl just could not let it go.
Cody and I were in this pretty cool little hidden gem of a local artists shop. While none of the art or crafts were groundbreaking, some of them were very imaginative. The pinched little twenty-something behind the counter struck up a conversation. When it came up that we had moved to the area recently she began the torrent of rain talk permutations. She was one of the folks we have encountered who would not let it go. On and on she went going so far as to continue talking, without leaving her chair just raising her voice when I moved into an adjacent room.
It felt a bit like an after school special. One of those cheesy 1980’s deals where a nasty girl bully has managed to knock someone down in the hall, and the victim has spilled their purse flinging tampons about like sprinkles for everyone to see and tried to hide in their thrift store sweater while the bully laughs and shrieks “stupid orphan can’t read!” This shopgirl was waaaaaaay into her perceived superiority at, I guess, having lived longer than I in a place that gets coastal rain.
In the oddest of turns I am grateful to this horrible self-involved creature. By going so far above and beyond what we had already encountered, I was able to begin to discern what these people actually mean. They are all effectively pointing and saying, “not one of us.” This is like the opposite of the dinner party scene in Todd Browning’s movie Freaks. Something about these individuals holds real disdain for perceived outsiders. We are the freak, we have intruded and we will never fit in because, I gather, they have decided we don’t have enough experience with precipitation.
This is so weird. When we first arrived in Montana people would ask, “Are you used to snow? Because we get snow. A lot of snow.” or “Montana winters are something else. You may want to check your tires early.” The stark contrast is very interesting to me. Now if people were all up in my storm drain over Tsunami preparation and evacuation I would be thanking them, maybe even take careful notes. But what is it about the persistence of gray days and a costal deluge that gives some people license to decide they are better people than someone who has not recently lived through said dampening?
A couple of days ago I posted a question regarding Halloween on a group page for citizens of our area. I identified us as new to the area (did not note where we were from) and asked about the volume of trick-or-treaters we might expect. I should mention that there were plenty of people who were just lovely. It seems like we won’t get many, if any. Among the responses though was a seriously angry woman. She began by telling me that it is 2017 and that, trick or treating never happens anymore as it is unsafe. Imagine my surprise that no one had told the parents of the hundred or so kids we saw each year in Montana this.
She then went on to scold me over the evils of sugar or the ridiculous need I must have to pump children full of such poison. Wow. I should have let it go. Put on my Elsa costume and just let it go. What I did instead was respond with “Thank you for taking the time to make me and my family feel so welcome in our new community.” She responded by sending me a link to discount RAIN PONCHOS. Oooooo, you showed your tentacles sea witch and I know who you are now. I mean come on, there it is again precipitation superiority. I’m starting to think that around any corner, Donald Sutherland might be there pointing a finger and shrieking, lumping me in with Kevin McCarthy as an imposter, an interloper.
Through this bizarre ritual I have thought of at least fifty snarky responses ranging from passive aggressive to just straight up aggressive. I think the answer might lie somewhere else though. I think back to my first gut reaction. I think again about Freaks, and decide to just be my most honest self. I think my best reaction has to be “When you address me like I cannot possibly understand coastal rain in such a condescending way, you make me feel unwelcome in my new home and that is why I am choosing to leave your shop.”
I will express myself with my dollars. I will continue to support local businesses that say instead, welcome. Gooble gobble, we accept you, one of us.